LIV PERSIAN LITERATURE 137 Omar Khayyam.—Omar Khayyam, or the "Tent Maker," is the best known of Persian poets in England and America, owing to the genius of FitzGerald,1 indeed it has been calculated that more than ninety per cent of the ladies who enter the Oriental Library at the British Museum ask some question about the bard of Nishapur. But if his name is brought up among Persians they will reply, "Omar Khayyam was a philosopher and an astronomer." In other words, he is famous in Persia as a philosopher and for his labours in connexion with the Jalali era, referred to in Chapter LIL, and his reputa- tion does not in any way rest on his quatrains.2 As already mentioned, he was a friend and, according to one account, school-fellow of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, who granted him a pension. The oldest account we possess of him is in the Chahar Makala of Nizami-al-Arudi, in the section, it is to be noted, wjiich treats of astrologers and astronomers. Here is given the original story of the poet's saying : " My grave will be in a spot where the trees will shed their blossoms on me twice a year." Nizami states that in A.H. 530 (1135) he visited the tomb of the deceased Omar, " seeing that he had the claim of a master on me ... and his tomb lay at the foot of a garden-wall, over which pear-trees and peach-trees thrust their heads, and on his grave had fallen so many flower-leaves that his dust was hidden beneath the flowers." This disposes of the mistaken idea that Omar was buried beneath a rose-bush. On the dry Iranian plateau, where nature is scanty in her gifts, the truly beautiful peach and pear and other fruit blossoms play a far larger part than in rainy England, where vegetation is so rich and luxuriant. I have twice passed through Nishapur and on each 1 Co well wrote : "FitzGerald's translation is so infinitely finer than the original that the value of the latter is such mainly as attaches to Chaucer's or Shakespeare's prototypes." This may seem to be an exaggeration, but in my humble opinion it is true. 2 Sir Mortimer Durand once visited the late Shah Nasir-u-Din to proffer a request from the Omar Khayyam Club that the tomb of the poet should be repaired. The Shah was astonished and said, " Do you mean to tell me that there is a club connected with Omar Khayyam ? Why, he has been dead for a thousand years. We have had a great many better poets in Persia than Omar Khayyam, and indeed I myself-------" and then he stopped.